Customer Experience Matters Even More Now: 6 Steps to Make it Work

I called a popular restaurant in Chicago today, to make a reservation for dinner during my family’s annual trip there, coming up in December (we’re very much hoping to still do it this year). The person who answered responded with, “We’re not taking reservations for then yet just because we don’t know what’s going to be happening". No, “thanks for calling but…” or “I’m so sorry, but…”. Just that. Surprised by that, I think I said something like, “Um, uh, Oh.” Then they added, “So the best I could tell you is you might want to call back in the first or second week of November and we might know more then”. Um, that’s really not the best you could tell me. I thanked her, and she replied with, “No worries” and hung up. No worries. I don’t have any, there are literally still hundreds of restaurants we can choose from, and now we will.

Let’s see, next week is the first week of November. Just today, your governor ordered another shut-down of all indoor dining in Chicago (it’s likely that will be lifted by mid-December). In any event, shouldn’t you take my reservation now, to lock me in? The hotel took my reservation, happily I might add; don’t they have just as much uncertainty? After hanging up, I thought “how amazing they would do that”. At this time. With all the press on how tens of thousands of restaurants won’t survive this pandemic. It would have taken no more than a minute to book my reservation, but instead, they are losing us that night and we’re going somewhere else. Food is a zero-sum game, you don’t get lost customer visits back.

Regardless of your business, are you sure your people aren’t doing something similar right now? In many industries, the stress level on employees is much higher due to COVID. Without clear direction, this type of thing results. But, now is not the time to put up obstacles to getting customers in your door. Now is the time to show customers more love than ever, make it easier than ever to do business with you, fawn over them with genuine appreciation when they risk all that must be risked right now to venture out into the public world to come visit you, and then do everything you can to lock them in forever.

So what can you do?

  1. Quickly, do a check across your organization to make sure things like this aren’t happening by accident.
  2. Hold a company-wide Zoom call and outline your philosophy about these issues to everyone, so they all hear the same thing. While we all might be getting a little Zoomed-out, it definitely beats the old company-wide memo, by a long shot.
  3. Help your teams understand with crystal-clear certainty, that you must show even greater appreciation for customers now.
  4. Reiterate that you’re concerned with your teams’ safety and well-being first and foremost, but that now is the time to love your customers more than ever.
  5. Empower them to advocate for the customer.
  6. Create a simple, inexpensive reward system around demonstrating customer love, and when you award those, make sure everyone knows who wins and why.

Going forward, in all channels experience wins. But, for companies providing in-person experiences, those who choose to prioritize customer experience and really walk the talk of it, will lock in customers for a very long time. Those who don’t, will fall by the wayside and become mediocre, or extinct. Win on experience!

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